First Open Source Election Software Released in the United States


This has little to do with Enterprise 2.0. But its a celebration of open constructs and transparency around a topic that’s significantly larger than the business of social computing – how we vote.

I’m thrilled to see this report in Wired Magazine that OSDV – the Open Source Digital Voting Foundation, has officially released the source code for its prototype election system. And the pseudo geek in me is especially tickled to see this make it to Techmeme and Digg.

A little about OSDV from the Wired article:

The OSDV, co-founded by Gregory Miller and John Sebes, launched its Trust the Vote Project in 2006 and has an eight-year roadmap to produce a comprehensive, publicly owned, open source electronic election system. The system would be available for licensing to manufacturers or election districts, and would include a voter registration component; firmware for casting ballots on voting devices (either touch-screen systems with a paper trail, optical-scan machines or ballot-marking devices); and an election management system for creating ballots, administering elections and counting votes.

A few years ago when Gregory and John started chatting with me about this project, the single data point that got my antenna up was the fact that 80% of the Vote is impacted by 2 vendors. And yes, lets not forget the issue of hanging chads. I’m big on capitalism and I’m all for ‘may the best man/woman win and win big”. But in this case, the ramifications of closed systems that ultimately decides who has the finger on the economic/ healthcare/ nuclear flip switch or state level welfare begged for a broader, open system to ensure that each of us is heard.

OSDV promised to create an open spec, reference architecture and sample stack of software and hardware for all election system vendors to license. This way, we the public, have an open lens into the design and security of the vote counting and documentation process yet still allowing for the free market system to offer up competitive system and services providers to state and federal governments.  

Today OSDV includes other well known advisors such as Mitch Kapor and technology leaders such as Oracle, Sun and IBM are also looking to get involved. Trust the Vote is the flagship project and works closely with MTVs Rock the Vote initiative.


Photo (left to right): Dean Logan, Mitch Kapor, Heather Smith, Debra Bowen, Greg Miller. Courtesy Luke Wooden

I have served as an advisor to OSDV for over 3 years now and our firm, chipped in services to the foundation around business development and experience design. Its so nice to see this all come to fruition. Huge props to Gregory and John and my colleague Jane for helping with the initial identity work. I remember when the idea of OSDV was little more than a placeholder website and a back of a napkin concept and its awesome to see it all come together. Here’s to more wins in the near future.

For the geeks out there, here’s a link to the first chunk of code thats been released (online voter registration and tracking). For the rest of us, here’s how you can get involved with your wallet or your time.

Other coverage on Slashdot, and RockTheVote

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The only problem with open source software is that it makes it easier for some to tamper with it since they have the ability to get a copy online.

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